You leave the military with plenty of awesome sayings and cliches:
“Think outside the box.”
“High speed, low drag.”
“Every dog has its day.”
“Nothing good comes easy.”
“The only easy day was yesterday.” (I had to put this one in so my Navy SEAL friends would keep reading…)
But my favorite, and the one that sticks true for me as a Former Action Guy, is: “Embrace the suck.”
It’s an understatement to say Special Operations training in the military is difficult. By its very design, Special Operations training is intended to weed out the many who only “want” to be there and select only those worthy of the time and energy necessary to hone them into world-class, yet unconventional, warriors.
But how does it work?
Allow me to back up for a moment. My wife has worked in the medical research field for years. We were stationed outside Nashville, Tennessee, and she worked at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Many of her friends were fellow military spouses, with the bulk of them married to officers. I was on a Special Forces team, and at any social gathering, I’d be asked by her friend’s husbands the trick to making it into Special Forces (as if there is just one thing you need to know, like an insider’s stock tip…)
The question irritated me as I didn’t know what to say.
I’d contemplate giving them pearls of wisdom like “Don’t quit” or “Just remember the Three E’s: Everything Eventually Ends.” but these seemed a bit contrite/passive-aggressive, and I didn’t want to be an ass or act as if I had a huge ego.
My go-to technique was quoting my favorite radio personality, Bob Lacey, from the Charlotte, NC-based “Bob and Sheri Show,” with a healthy and hearty “Good Luck To Ya!”
But I ended up giving the topic quite a bit of thought.
One of the best things I realized about the Q Course (Special Forces Qualification Course) was the design and the various methods through which they’d “shift your paradigm” to make each candidate learn to “Embrace the Suck.”
When we started at Phase 1 (which at the time was SFAS or “Selection”), EVERYTHING we did had me thinking how much it sucked. Everything I did sucked. Raw, primal, SUCK. The kind of suck which makes you feel time stands still.
The kind that makes you think the event will never end.
But… The events did end. Eventually.
Then Selection ended. Finally.
And then, those of us selected went to the next training phase. And (if you worked hard enough, learned quickly enough, and recovered from injuries quickly enough) to the next phase.
And each phase sucked. I’ll clarify: Each phase had an element of really hardcore “suck” embedded in it.
Some phases were highly academic, but the cadre always took special care to ensure many elements of suck were embedded throughout.
It seemed comfort was their enemy, and they made damn sure we were never comfortable.
But an amazing thing started to happen. I seemed to care less about what was next on the schedule or how bad it was going to suck.
I learned to embrace it and welcome it because I knew it was par for the course. It was going to occur whether I wanted it to or not. Where I, and others, had been fearful of it (or at the very least resistant to it), I now learned to expect it. To love it.
I knew it was the fire in which I was to be forged. It’s not just a “Successories” poster on the wall featuring a soaring eagle and a snow-capped mountain background: my mind truly is my greatest weapon. Keeping a vigilant eye on maintaining the proper mindset was incredibly important to my future – especially if I hoped to be deemed worthy enough to earn the Green Beret.
Learning to Embrace the Suck helped make me a Special Forces soldier and prepared me to be an entrepreneur, businessman, husband, and father.
I know things are going to go wrong. I know life is going to be hard. I know plans will change. I know money won’t come as I expect.
I embrace all of it as par for the course.
Why? Because I realize that no matter how great I think I am – life often has other plans for me, and to achieve my goals, I need to Embrace the Suck and get on with it.
Trust me, you’d be better off if you could do this as well.